In response to questions from Senator Cory Bernardi during a Senate Standing Committee today (transcript here), Senator Stephen Conroy confirmed that the Government intends to block Refused Classification (RC) content under their mandatory ISP filtering scheme. He said there is a strong, overwhelming case for blocking RC content and other types of content will be decided on later (presumably X18+ and R18+ content). This confirms existing reports that such content would be banned.

RC content, which may include child pornography, also consists of a broad range of adult content which is legal to possess and purchase in this country (with the exception of Western Australia and prescribed areas of the Northern Territory).

Under the classification code the following content is considered RC:

(a) describe, depict, express or otherwise deal with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that they should not be classified; or

(b) describe or depict in a way that is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult, a person who is, or appears to be, a child under 18 (whether the person is engaged in sexual activity or not); or

(c) promote, incite or instruct in matters of crime or violence

As you can see from point A, a great deal of content which is not child pornography is also considered RC. Of particular concern is the fact depictions of ‘activity accompanied by fetishes or practices which are offensive or abhorrent’ are considered RC. In the past this has consisted of spanking content.

In response to questions from Senator Bernardi regarding the potential blocking of websites facilitating the sharing of copyrighted music files or unclassified videos, Senator Conroy said the focus of the mandatory filter was only on content covered in the Broadcasting Services Act.

Regarding the recently commissioned cyber-safety research from ECU, the cost of the consultation will be $97,700 with the first draft is expected in April and the final report in May.